from Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health
edited by Daniel Goleman, pp. 246-248
“The basic human condition, or human quality is human affection. That’s the key thing,
right? It is possible to develop, or promote, that human quality, because human nature, I
believe is basically compassionate. Negative emotions are also part of the human mind.
However, the dominant force of the human mind is still compassion.
Conception takes place when a male and female come together, due, I think, to genuine
love. That means they respect each other, are concerned with each other, and share a
sense of responsibility. (Not like the situation in which sexual intercourse takes place
because of other things. These other cases are really mad love. There is, I think, mad
desire for sexual pleasure, and these negative things develop). But proper human
sexuality, according to a kind of natural law, I think includes some sense of responsibility.
In that way, human life begins. Then during those few months in the mother’s
womb, the mother’s state of mind has a strong influence on the
development of the child.
Then, especially during the first few weeks after birth, according to scientists, the
mother’s physical touch is a most important factor for the healthy development of the
baby. I always tell people that a mother is a true teacher of compassion and
Art by Alex Grey
Therefore, I do not consider compassion as unique to religion. It’s the basic human
nature that we all share. Mother’s milk is, I think, a symbol of compassion. Without
mother’s milk we cannot survive, so our first act as a baby together with our mother is
sucking milk from our mother, with a feeling of great closeness. At that time, we may not
know how to express what love is, what compassion is, but there is a strong feeling of
closeness. From the mother’s side also, if there is no strong feeling of closeness toward
the baby, her milk may not flow readily. So, mother’s milk is, I think, a symbol of
compassion and human affection.”